The Third Way — A Utopian Realist Critique

  • Peter Kolarz


From the mid-1990s onwards Giddens produced a number of texts, which constitute his political project: the Third Way. The main works here are The Third Way (1998a), The Third Way and Its Critics (2000), parts of Beyond Left and Right (1994), as well as several articles elaborating on one or several elements already found in the main Third Way works. His Third Way broadly focuses on three themes: the state and civil society, the welfare state and inequality, and responses to globalization. The substantive chapters of The Third Way respectively deal with each of these themes but they also recur in some form in most of his Third Way texts. In brief, the central recommendations of his Third Way are:
  • No longer viewing state and market as being fundamentally in tension and, instead, fostering a partnership between the two, where the private sector helps to deliver and improve public services, while public services place greater emphasis on actively aiding the private sector.

  • Devolving political decision-making to communities and individuals, combined with a greater onus on individuals to transform their lives and communities.

  • Understanding the importance of life politics, primarily by legislating to change policies that enforce a standardized life cycle, such as the mandatory retirement age, and actively legislating to enable different lifestyles, for instance, by using policy to diversify education and work (both in terms of times and places).


Civil Society Structuration Theory Structural Constraint Critical Literature Life Politics 
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Copyright information

© Peter Kolarz 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kolarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Technopolis GroupUniversity of SussexUK

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